I love this time of year. Between Halloween, the holiday season on the horizon, and the fantasy football season reaching its critical weeks, I am wound up like a 7 year old after inhaling a bag of Halloween candy (perhaps that is because I’ve been face down in a bowl of miniature Snickers since Monday). Besides the holiday madness, fantasy football begins building steam as the calendar flips to November. With each matchup gaining more significance as the standings shake out, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to improve our teams before trade deadlines approach. So, drop the Kit-Kats and Tootsie Rolls, and dig through the bag for some Pixie Stix because we have some work to do. Let’s roll through a couple of players and a couple of thoughts about the world of fantasy trades as we head into week 9…
Jermichael Finley: As we touched on in week 8’s Smash Back, the pool of tight ends is extremely deep this season, which means teams may have more expendable depth. Finley recorded a whopping 3 catches for 33 yards over the two games before Green Bay’s bye week. Granted, one was for a touchdown, but the reception totals for Finley should be much higher. File this one under the “it can only get better” category, as Finley is far overdue for some big games and big games are what fantasy owners love down the stretch.
Try this: Check in with Finley’s owner this week and see what positions they need help with. Due to all the emerging tight ends this season, Finley may not be the only productive tight end on that team’s roster. See if you can trade some RB or WR depth for Finley if you need an upgrade at tight end. I would feel good starting negotiations with a nice WR2 and working my way up from there. The Green Bay offense is too good to completely ignore this weapon much longer. Go get yourself some.
Cedric Benson: Benson has been pretty mediocre this season, but this is a situation to check out due to the amount of baggage surrounding the Cincinnati running back. Benson’s suspension is now over, but the absence saw Bernard Scott perform admirably, which might make Benson owners uncomfortable. Add that to the fact that Benson hasn’t played since week 6 and the Bengals face some tough run defenses in the next few weeks (Balt, Pitt twice), and you might find yourself an owner ready to dump a serviceable running back at a discount. Why should you attempt to acquire a player with such issues? That’s where your fantasy trading savvy comes in handy…
Try this: This one is all about the spin. The layoff for Benson should actually mean he’s more rested down the stretch, and despite a tough slate of defenses upcoming, the Bengals play St. Louis and Arizona in weeks 15 and 16, which is easy money. Slowly bring the topics of Bernard Scott’s encroachment, the Bengal’s schedule, and Benson’s rust into the conversation. This is a situation to handle delicately. Please don’t rush out of the gate with this email:
“Hey! Are you interested in trading Cedric Benson? Scott looked good last week filling in, so he may get more carries going forward. Oh, did I mention that Cincy plays some tough run defenses in the next few weeks? Don’t worry, trade him to me!”
People in your league are (hopefully) not dumb enough to fall for something like that. Instead, begin slowly by asking if any of the other team’s running backs are for sale. Whittle the choices down to Benson and casually mention some of the issues we previously discussed as your concerns. Start with that and slowly work your way to a starting offer of a mid-level WR or some of your TE depth for Benson. The key here is communication, which leads me to my next point…
Failure to Communicate: Over the past few weeks I have heard numerous discussions about the fact that fantasy trades are often difficult pull off. Everyone has been in a league with a stagnant trade market, or teams not willing to make moves to better their rosters. These types of leagues suck. How do we make our leagues more interactive and increase trade activity? The answer is simple: Communication (don’t worry, this type of communication is much more fun than the variety your significant other has been clamoring for.). Do your trade offers go unanswered? Do you receive rejection after rejection with no counter offers or justification? Well, partner, you need to bust out that phone, email, twitter, message board, telegraph, or whatever tickles your fancy, and start yacking.
Try this: Stop sending out blank trade proposals. Yes, Arian Foster is awesome, and you would like to have him on your team. I can guarantee there is a ZERO percent chance that another owner would agree to the type of blockbuster deal necessary to acquire a player like Foster through one generic offer. Even smaller scale offers need some massaging. Always begin trade negotiations with an email. If you are in a league with strangers, most host websites have an option for you to directly email or message other owners. Start there. Begin by asking what players are available and offer up some players on your roster that could be moved for the right price. This simple 3 minute email is all it takes to build a foundation upon which to build your ideal fantasy trade. The more conversation, the better.
Know Thy Schedule: This is a simple one, but is easy to overlook. Take 2 minutes out of your busy afternoon of grubbing Golden Grahams and watching Animal Planet to mosey over to your league website and read your team’s schedule. This is crucial. If you plan on being active in the trade market as your league’s deadline approaches, it is critical that you know who you play down the stretch. Do NOT make a trade that cures a bye week issue for a team you play in week 10. If you are 4-4 and need every possible victory, don’t make a trade to help out the team that is just ahead of you in the standings and on your schedule in week 11.
Try this: Keep your upcoming schedule handy, especially for weeks 9-11 (remaining bye weeks). If you are in trade talks with another team that you are playing in those weeks, be careful about what you are giving up. For example, I play a team that has Arian Foster in week 11, which happens to be Houston’s bye week. That owner hit me up this week attempting to acquire some of my running back depth to help with bye week issues. Once I realized that Foster’s bye week gave me a distinct advantage in week 11, I immediately told him thanks, but no thanks (in a much more derogatory manner). As we head down the home stretch, keep your schedule in mind as you wheel and deal.
Hopefully all of you enjoyed your Halloween weekend…and stayed away from Julian Edelman. Now go beat down on your week 9 opponent and get yourself one game closer to a playoff spot.